Destroyed by Tornado, Church Keeps Faith and Plans to Rebuild

Tornadoes that touched down on Oct. 20, 2019 are the costliest in state history

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Tuesday marked one year since devastating tornadoes destroyed homes and businesses from Dallas to Richardson while leaving an estimated $1.5 billion in damage in its wake -- the most ever from a single storm in Texas.

In one Northwest Dallas neighborhood -- near the intersection of Walnut Hill and Marsh lanes, several homes and churches were destroyed in the storm.

Pastor Richard Brambila said it feels like the tornado struck just yesterday.

“I can’t believe it’s been a year,” he said. “The winds of the tornado are still here. The emotion of what happened is still here.”

Surveillance videos showed the wind picking up as an EF-3 tornado approached First Mexican Baptist Church on Sunday, Oct. 20, 2019.

The pastor’s nephew, Francisco Flores, was huddled inside a room by the altar as the walls around him were torn away by the winds.

“I feel grateful to God for giving me another opportunity to live,” Flores said.

The building was decimated. Volunteers from across the state came to help in the cleanup efforts, Brambila said.

An empty slab and brick archways are all that remain of the church. Brambila said the community was just grateful no lives were lost.

“It was better that it was us than an apartment complex with 3,000 that could’ve died,” he said.

The plan is to rebuild on the same plot of land.

“When God gives you a blank foundation, you begin to dream,” Brambila said.

The rebuilding project was put on hold due to the pandemic and the church’s wish to instead focus on helping its families impacted by COVID-19.

But once the project gets underway the plan is to keep the brick archways as a testament.

“If they withstood 140 miles winds, they deserve to be standing,” Brambila said. “We’ll leave them.

The church is holding a public prayer vigil at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, where the building once stood at 10010 Betty Jane Lane.

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